Visual Merchandising: What is it and Why it’s Important?

As a retail store owner, your success hinges on the number of regular and new customers that purchase your product. The best way to get anyone to buy what you are selling is to get them interested enough to interact with it. This is where Visual Merchandising comes in. The primary goal of visual merchandising is to get more and more customers into your store.

Have you heard about this concept but don’t know what it means? This guide defines visual merchandising and tells you everything you need to know to incorporate it into your store.

What Is Visual Merchandising?

Visual merchandising refers to the process of highlighting product features and merits through strategic designing, planning, and displaying. It encompasses the entire customer experience from the entry, product displays, and store layout to the checkout and helps you utilize your displays for maximum sales. With a well-designed visual merchandising system, you won’t need a salesperson as your products will sell themselves.

Why Is Visual Merchandising Important?

Improved Customer Interaction. A well-thought-out display allows your customers to interact with your products and will keep them in your store for longer, increasing their chances of making a purchase. A good example is a furniture store that allows people to sit at tables or try out futons. If a customer can touch, see, even smell a product before purchasing it, they are likely to go ahead with the purchase.

Increased Social Presence. Creative, colorful visual displays not only bring more customers to your store and encourage them to stay there; they also inspire them to share the experience with their friends. In today’s digital world, this is easily achieved through taking photos of the store and sharing them on social media. The effect is increased recognition for you and your shop.

Improved Sales. Did you know that the average shopper will buy three things they weren’t going to buy in at least 40 percent of the shops they visit? This means that if you can capture and maintain your customer’s interest through your displays, they are more likely to purchase more products, which translates to higher sales for you.

Types of Visual Merchandising

Visual Merchandising draws from anything people can see and likely interact with, making it a vast field. The following are the most common types of displays you can use for your business. Remember, your choice will depend on your products, budget, and store size, among other facts.

  • Interactive Displays. An interactive display incorporates sight and touches aspects to produce a display that customers can view and interact with. Examples include touch screens, chatbots, vending machines, smart mirrors, and playlists your customers can control.
  • Window Displays. As interactive displays work to keep customers in your store, window displays draw them into the shop by directing their attention to what you are offering. Depending on your goal, you can use a window display to highlight your brand’s identity or announce sales, new products, or promotions.
  • Life-Size Mannequins. You can buy a life-size mannequin at a store for anything between $60 and $600. These displays are designed to mimic the human form, and by extension, help customers see how they can interact with your products. For example, if you sell clothes to plus-size women, you can purchase mannequins in the appropriate sizes and dress them with your designs.
  • Checkouts. The checkout is the last thing your customers interact with as they leave your store, and they too can be used for visual merchandising. By the time customers get here, they have bought what they need, but a creative display can inspire some impulse buys.

Important Elements of Visual Merchandising

Creating the perfect visual display requires that several elements come together to create that wow factor that will draw customers to your shop. While these elements are too many to count, the following five are the most important:


Color brings life to any visual presentation and plays a crucial role in the appeal power of your display. Whether you like soft, sophisticated colors of colorful shades and hues, it is vital that you coordinate your color scheme. Make sure it speaks to who you are as a brand and captures the eye of anyone who looks at it.

Tip: When choosing a color scheme, find a running theme and incorporate it into your display to coordinate all your colors (no matter how many). An excellent place to start is with your brand colors.


The focus of your display is where your customers’ eyes settle when their view your presentation. It is the main star of your show that must be visible from any side of the display. Usually, this focus is the product you are selling as it is, after all, the main reason for creating the display. For example, if you are selling a chair, you can accessorize it with pillows and throws as long as the chair – not the accessories – is the focus of your display.

Empty Space

The space between your products and the ceiling is disregarded in so many stores that it is often dubbed the ’empty space.’ If you wish to stand out from the crowd, your display should utilize this space by making it part of the presentation. For example, you can use it to display information about your brand or merchandise or lifestyle graphics of people using your products.


When customers look at your display, they should see who you are, what you stand for, and why you do what you do. Simply put, your display should tell your story. You can do this through lifestyle graphics or brief bullet points containing the product name, price, and problem it solves.


As your customer interacts with your display, they will want to access your products. You can make this easier for them by designing displays that expose them to as many products as possible while remaining tidy and true to your theme. Consider circular or floor-centered displays. Rotating tables are also an excellent way to go.

Final Thoughts

Visual Merchandising is one of the backbones of running a successful retail store. If you are considering it for your business, start by researching your target audience’s behaviors, core values, and buyer behavior. Don’t overlook the demographics (age, education, profession, income, etc.) but find out what makes them tick and incorporate it into your displays.

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